Growing up in the Pawling area, Anthony is son to PPR volunteers Mike and Bernadette Shustak. Anthony grew up listening to punk-rock and pop-punk and was instantly hooked, joining friends to form bands and playing at local venues. He then became involved in sound engineering, working at the Gramercy Theater in New York City, and on tour with various bands.
Q&A with Anthony Shustak, Front-of-house Engineer/Monitor Engineer/Stage Manager for The Gaslight Anthem and Motion City Soundtrack
Q: Have you been involved with music your entire life? How did you first get started? Were you involved with any local clubs or groups around Pawling growing up?
Anthony: I got into punk rock and pop-punk music when I was 12 or 13. It got me into wanting to play in a band, so I got some drums, took lessons and played with some friends of mine in bands. I played in bands until I was a sophomore in college. I also put together a lot of local shows in small local halls from time to time in high school, and played shows in Danbury and Poughkeepsie every so often. Playing a few times at The Chance were really cool at the time.
Q: How long have you been involved with The Gaslight Anthem and what exactly do you do with the band?
Anthony: I started working with The Gaslight Anthem at the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey this spring and just began touring with them at the beginning of June. I signed on as a drum tech, stage manager, and monitor engineer. As a drum tech, I’m in charge of setting up and keeping maintenance and tuning of the drums and percussion. As a stage manager, I am in charge of all aspects of the stage. On a typical show day, our tour manager, production manager, and myself act as liasons between the band and local or other touring crews. I’m in charge of keeping the schedule of the show on time, setting equipment and a backdrop in place, checking the wiring of all microphones, and also small things like getting drinks, towels and set lists. As a monitor engineer, I mix for the band on stage. Basically: there is a front-of-house engineer who mixes what the audience hears, and I make sure each member of the band has their own distinct mix on stage, whether it be through floor monitors or in-ear monitors or both. So, there’s a lot for me to do over the course of a show day.
Q: How has this recent tour been? I heard there was a situation when The Gaslight Anthem’s drummer had to drop out for a few days. Would you mind explaining the experience?
Anthony: The last tour was an great experience. I was lucky enough to work at a lot of Europe’s biggest summer festivals as well as some headline shows, and then some Foo Fighters shows. It was actually really unfortunate that I had to sit in on drums. Our drummer’s grandmother had passed away not even two weeks into the tour, so he had to fly home to New Jersey for 3 days. Luckily, he only missed one show and I only had to play three songs, but it was still a crazy experience. It was nerve-racking up until the morning of the show, but I was able to calm myself down in the morning. That show also happened to be a festival where the Foo Fighters were headlining later that night.
Q: As you mentioned, the band opened for the legendary Dave Grohl and co., did you get to meet the Foo Fighters?
Anthony: Going back to that show (as mentioned in the prior question), we hadn’t done our shows with them yet, so none of us had met them. They were aware of our drummer situation. It was myself and two other drummers that we knew at the festival that offered to fill in, and a few songs in (I was still working while the other drummers were playing), I looked over and saw Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins standing off to the side smiling and laughing at our whole situation. It was surreal seeing three guys so influential to rock music watching and actually enjoying themselves while being on that stage. When I went back to the dressing room, Dave was there hanging out with our guys. He couldn’t be any cooler of a guy. He was just really nice and excited to meet us and he had even complemented my playing. My head went a little crazy for a second. Then we were the main support act for two of their headline shows: one in Copenhagen and one in Madrid. I think the Madrid show held 17,000 people in this huge sports arena. The shows were amazing, and their entire crew was amazing to work with and were really helpful.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Anthony: Right now, my plans are to go out as a front-of-house engineer for Motion City Soundtrack in a few weeks up until the end of September. I also do sound for an electro-pop artist called LIGHTS and I’ll be on tour with her in the fall. After that, I’ll be back out with The Gaslight Anthem in the spring.